Geraldine Hoff Doyle, 'We Can Do It!' poster inspiration, dies at 86
December 30th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Geraldine Hoff Doyle, 'We Can Do It!' poster inspiration, dies at 86

The woman who inspired the famous World War II "We Can Do It!" poster has died.

Geraldine Hoff Doyle was just 17 when a United Press photographer captured her in 1942 working at a Michigan metal factory, wearing a red polka-dotted bandanna.

Her pretty face caught the eye of artist J. Howard Miller, who had been commissioned by the government to create a series of motivational posters for factory workers.

The face on the poster was Doyle's, but the powerful muscles were not, her daughter Stephanie Gregg of Eaton Rapids, Michigan, told The New York Times.

"She didn't have big, muscular arms," Gregg said in the Times' obituary. "She was 5-foot-10 and very slender. She was a glamour girl. The arched eyebrows, the beautiful lips, the shape of the face — that's her."

Doyle abandoned the factory job after just two weeks, worried that she might injure her hands and not be able to play cello anymore, according to the Washington Post. She took a job at a soda fountain, where she met her future husband.

The poster eventually became an icon of women's empowerment, but Doyle never recognized her own face on it until 1984, when she saw it in Modern Maturity magazine, the Lansing (Michigan) State Journal reported.

Doyle was married for 66 years to dentist Leo Doyle, who died in February. They had six children, 18 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren. Geraldine Doyle died Sunday at a hospice facility in Lansing, her daughter said. She was 86.

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Filed under: Art • History • Michigan • Obituary • U.S. • War
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Alberta

    So few of this generation left. They built this country and left it to us, never thinking......................

    December 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • YYZ

      ...never thinking it would or could be ruined so quickly after gaining so much strength? yeah that
      Every bit of blood spilled to make this country great has been swept away and now we are the country that is failing in everything. I miss my grandfather but Im glad he isnt here to see things like they are today.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. brianNH

    it is a bit ironic that the poster girl for the factory workers quit after only doing it for 2 weeks 😉

    December 30, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RUSH

    I know how she got those arms so pumped up...giggidy

    December 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JFK

    She is from the WW2 generation of Americans. She was a member of the greatest generation as Tom Brokaw's book
    suggests. They struggled through the Great Depression, participated in a war like we've never seen before (WW2), and contributed to the building of this country. Sad that over time and due to a number of societal and political reasons, America's values and culture of that day have eroded to almost ashes.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Phil

    Yes we can!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rod Venger

    Yo SalSal,

    #1, that's a girly name...

    #2, I'm not an immigrant. I was BORN here.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JFK

    She is from the WW2 generation of Americans. She was a member of the greatest generation as Tom Brokaw's book
    suggests. They struggled through the Great Depression, participated in a war like we've never seen before (WW2), and contributed to the building of this country. Sad that over time and due to a number of societal and political reasons, America's values and culture of that day have eroded to almost ashes.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JFK

    Please read my blog. CNN editors buried it. Comments welcome! Thanks.

    "Ask not what your country can do for you......."

    December 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The Greatest Generation of ALL TIME

    What they accomplished in that short of time will not and could not ever be duplicated ever again. Try to argue that one out with me and win. GOD BLESS OF THEM!!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Greatest Generation of ALL TIME

    What they accomplished in that short of time will not and could not ever be duplicated ever again. Try to argue that one out with me and win. GOD BLESS ALL OF THEM!!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Peaceful

    The WSJ has a photo of the real woman. She was breathtaking. No wonder she she inspired such an iconic poster.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yiddishlion

      Yes she WAS!

      December 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Greatest Generation of ALL TIME

    Back then you knew who the enemy was becasue they had the balls to wear a uniform.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tm61

    "clinton surplus", did bill leave a bunch of cash lying around?, no,?, you mean the largest tax hikes in US history (up til now), funny how lliberals talk about people's income, like it belongs to the government

    December 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yiddishlion

      Clinton had no "surplus" he just balanced the budget....with the help of a Republican congress of course....There was still a HUGE deficit though. A balanced budget is not the same thing as zero debts. Libs are just too stupid to understand that.

      December 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Yiddishlion

    Here's something for the trolls;

    January 3rd, 2007 was the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the
    Congress. At that time:
    .
    DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77
    .
    GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%
    .
    Unemployment rate was 4.6%
    .
    Bush's Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB CREATION!
    .
    .
    ***ON THAT DAY, JANUARY 3RD 2007:
    .
    Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee.
    Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee.
    .
    The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the
    economy?
    .
    BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES!!!
    .
    THANK YOU DEMOCRATS for taking us from 13,000 DOW, 3.5 GDP and 4.6%
    Unemployment... to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6
    TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie
    Mac ! (BTW: Bush asked Congress 17 TIMES to stop Fannie & Freddie – starting in
    2001 because it was Financially risky for the US economy):
    .
    And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac????
    OBAMA!
    And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie??? OBAMA!

    December 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • buke56

      The jobs Dubya created went overseas. Any price incurred by big business in deporting jobs was tax deductable. DUH!!!!!!! Obama did nothing to the economy to cause it to crumble, it was crumbling under Dubya (who by the way failed miserably at every financial enterprise his father gave him to task inside the Bush family dynasty) who then handed it to Obama. The meltdown of our economy isnt something that can be stopped at a whim you whack job wing nut. Just think of applying brakes to a speeding car, it isnt going to stop on a dime, the car is still going to lurch forward. dUbya is a moron not just to the Dems in this country but to the whole world. You stand corrected. Now go have a good cry on Drug Windbaughs man boobs. LMFAO @ you!

      December 30, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Yiddishlion

    The 111th Congress Added More Debt Than First 100 Congresses Combined: $10,429 Per Person in U.S.

    Congress Convening/Adjourning Debt Levels
    111th Congress
    Jan. 6, 2009 $10,638,425,746,293.80
    Dec. 22, 2010 $13,858,529,371,601.09
    New Debt: $3,220,103,625,307.29
    110th Congress
    Jan. 4, 2007 8,670,596,242,973.04
    Jan. 3, 2009 10,627,961,295,930.67
    New Debt: 1,957,365,052,957.63
    109th Congress
    Jan. 4, 2005 7,601,016,892,663.19
    Dec. 8, 2006 8,655,403,967,590.98
    New Debt: 1,054,387,074,927.79
    108th Congress
    Jan. 7, 2003 6,387,381,983,103.35
    Dec. 9, 2004 7,546,778,677,941.37
    New Debt: 1,159,396,694,838.02
    107th Congress
    Jan. 3, 2001 5,723,237,439,563.59
    Nov. 22, 2002 6,332,715,758,032.33
    New Debt: 609,478,318,468.74
    106th Congress
    Jan. 6, 1999 5,615,428,551,461.33
    Dec. 15, 2000 5,706,990,981,165.37
    New Debt: 91,562,429,704.04
    105th Congress
    Jan. 7, 1997 5,312,781,237,956.91
    Dec. 19, 1998 5,583,950,306,972.53
    New Debt: 271,169,069,015.62
    104th Congress
    Jan. 4, 1995 4,801,793,426,032.89
    Oct. 4, 1996 5,222,049,625,819.53
    New Debt: 420,256,199,786.64
    103rd Congress
    Jan.5, 1993 4,169,232,407,244.75
    Dec. 1, 1994 4,774,851,353,596.54
    New Debt: 605,618,946,351.79
    102nd Congress
    Jan. 3, 1991 (Dec. 31, 1990) 3,364,820,000,000.00
    Oct. 9, 1992 (Sept. 30, 1992) 4,064,621,000,000.00
    New Debt: 699,801,000,000.00
    101st Congress
    Jan. 3, 1989 (Dec. 31, 1988) 2,684,392,000,000.00
    Oct. 28, 1990 (Oct. 31, 1990) 3,274,950,000.000.00
    New Debt: 590,558,000,000.00

    December 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yiddishlion

      Facts are always a problem for Democrats.

      December 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
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